Slight Unemployment Rate Decrease Recorded In South Africa


While the unemployment rate decreased marginally during the final months of 2022, jobs created in the fourth quarter represent progress. However, more work needs to be done to ensure substantial progress in reducing unemployment in South Africa.




Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) recently released the results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the fourth quarter of 2022. The results show that unemployment in the country decreased marginally in the final months of 2022.

The official unemployment rate decreased by 0.2% of a percentage point from 32.9% in the third quarter of 2022 to 32.7% in the fourth quarter of 2022. This meant that there were about 169,000 more people in the fourth quarter of 2022 than in the previous quarter.

Of the 23,7 million people that make up South Africa’s labour force, 15,9 million people are employed while 7,8 million people are unemployed. There are 16,8 million people that are not economically active.

Industry employment gains were recorded in the Finance sector where 103,000 jobs were gained, Private households where 54,000 jobs were gained and in Trade where 52,000 jobs were gained.

Stanlib Chief Economist Kevin Lings says the fourth quarter unemployment figures indicate that many businesses demonstrated resilience to cope with the impact of loadshedding. This is because they anticipated an increase in the unemployment rate during the power cuts.

In 2022, South Africans endured more than 200 days of loadshedding with the severity of power cuts reaching stage 6 which left citizens in the dark for around 10 hours per day.

Lings said, “I was worried… that we would see a worse unemployment rate or some job losses and that's not happening so that tells you that the business sector, despite the electricity, is proving to be fairly resilient.”

They added that while the drop in the unemployment rate was encouraging, the country still has to create many more jobs to completely recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Tony Ehrenreich says the reduction in the rate of unemployment is not a cause for celebration. This is because the expanded definition of unemployment indicates that 11.8 million people are without work.

The expanded definition of unemployment takes into account individuals who have become disillusioned with the labour market and who are described as discouraged work-seekers. The current unemployment rate as per the expanded definition stands at 42.6%.

There are around 3.4 million discouraged work-seekers in South Africa and 600,000 individuals who have other reasons for not seeking work.

Ehrenreich says while the slight reduction in the unemployment rate must not be dismissed, more must be done to reduce the expanded rate of unemployment in the country as one out of every four people is without work.

They say part of the strategy to reduce unemployment should be to increase the levels of taxation on the wealthy. They believe this will result in more money being invested into the economy and have a positive impact on job creation.

“In that way drag more people into employment because as we get more people into employment, they in themselves become consumers, their demand drives up economic growth in the country and that creates more employment opportunities as we have to create the additional products that will be bought by people,” concluded Ehrenreich.


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